GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — C.J. Anderson, playing five days after he was signed by Los Angeles, rushed for 167 yards — one shy of his career high — and the Rams bounced back from a pair of losses to beat the troubled Arizona Cardinals 31-9 on Sunday.
Anderson, playing in place of the injured Todd Gurley, had a 4-yard touchdown run and other runs of 46 and 27 yards as the Rams (12-3) rushed for 269 yards, most allowed by Arizona on the ground this season.
With the victory, Los Angeles held on to the second-best record in the NFC with one game to go.
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, in perhaps his final home game, threw the first touchdown pass of his career, a 32-yard toss to David Johnson.
But it was the only trip to the end zone for the Cardinals (3-12), who at 1-7 had the worst record home since they moved to Arizona in 1988. A loss in their season finale at Seattle would leave them 3-13, matching the worst record since that move from St. Louis.
All this leads to speculation that Steve Wilks’ rookie season in Arizona as head coach might be his last.
Jared Goff completed 19 of 24 for 216 yards for a touchdown. He also ran for a score on one of three consecutive TD drives for Los Angeles in the first half.
A Rams turnover gave Arizona its chance to score early and take its only lead. Goff, under duress, fumbled and Deone Bucannon recovered for the Cardinals at the Rams 41. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen scrambled for 15 yards and threw three short passes to Fitzgerald to set up Zane Gonzalez‘s 36-yard field goal.
But Los Angeles methodically mounted touchdown drives the next three times it had the ball.
The Rams needed only 3:08 for a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, Robert Woods scoring from 4 yards on an end around.
Anderson’s 27-yard run up the middle highlighted the 11-play, 84-yard drive, Goff scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 14-3.
After Arizona’s unlikely TD, with Fitzgerald dropping in a perfectly thrown 32-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, the Rams took the kickoff and used up 7½ minutes in another 75-yard drive. Anderson scored on a 4-yard run and Los Angeles led 21-9 with 2:10 left in the half.
Both teams failed on long field-goal tries in the second quarter. Gonzalez missed from 54 yards and, as the half ended, Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard try bounced off the left upright.
In the third quarter, Rosen appeared to fumble and Nickell Robey-Coleman returned it 27 yards for a score. But after a video review, Rosen’s arm was ruled to be moving forward and it was only an incomplete pass.
Fitzgerald isn’t saying whether this, his 15th NFL season, will be his last. But if this was his final home game, he had a good one.
At the top of the list was the throw. After Rosen’s 16-yard run to the Los Angeles 32, the Cardinals ran a play with Rosen tossing a lateral to Fitzgerald, who then tossed to the wide open Johnson for the touchdown. Fitzgerald is 2 for 4 in his NFL passing career for 53 yards — and one touchdown.
Coach Sean McVay, and even Gurley himself, had talked as if they expected the prolific running back to play. But Gurley didn’t practice all week with left knee inflammation and it was announced a couple of hours before the game that he wouldn’t play.
But in the end they decided it made no sense to push it considering the opposition and the bigger games ahead.
Rams: host San Francisco next Sunday.
Cardinals: play at Seattle on Sunday.